My littles (praise pact day 9, 10, 11)

I’m a little behind on my praise pact. The past few days my kids have not been sleeping well. So, I have been slurring words and drinking gallons of coffee and have been in no way capable of holding a conversation let alone type anything read-able.

But here are my praises for the past two days and one for today.

ImageI’m thankful for my son Oren and his gentle heart towards others. I love that he cries when others are hurt because he empathizes so deeply for them. I love that when someone is our house is upset or a small war has been waged over who is playing with what baby, he comforts. He tells them, “I know you were arguing and she hurt you, but you have a baby now. Go ahead and give your sissy a hug and a kiss.” I am thankful for his gentle encouragement and I love the gentle leadership he offers his younger brother and sisters.

My oldest daughter (by 30 sec), Cadence, is a joy to my soul. I’m thankful for her big partially swallowed smile and her big blue eyes. I’m thankful for her caring spirit and her to keep her siblings in line and for graciously sharing how they should best do that. I’m thankful that she by nature is a caregiver to her Imagesiblings and will make sure everyone has a blanket, a sippy cup, new clothes, etc before she will have hers. I’m thankful for her sweet snuggles and her silly sense of humor.

My heart is full of thanks for my youngest daughter, Addilynn and her infectious giggle. I’m thankful for her artistic expressions of her “art” along my walls, her wardrobe choices, and her crazy dances. I love that she loves to be different and find her own way Imageto do things. I love that she is not afraid to laugh over the silly and bring an element of silly to the serious moments. I’m thankful for her ability to express her feelings and wear her heart on her sleeve.

He fills my life with good things. Psalm 103:5

 

Can you guess who will be featured tomorrow?

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Praise Pact: Day 6

This is my praise pact day 6.

I’m thankful for real community. I’m thankful that this week when I needed prayer, my friends, family and church family were willing to pray and did. I’m thankful that I am able to share my heart with them–the deep places that sometimes hurt and the places that normally are shut off to vulnerability. I’m thankful that I never feel like I have to falsely say, “it’s been a good day”, but that when it is truly a good day I have people celebrating with me. I’m thankful that there are people in my world who show up and bless me even when I never asked. I’m thankful that there are people who are wiling to lovingly challenge me to be better and to encourage me to do so. I’m thankful that they also are willing to share their vulnerabilities and let me bless them by allowing me to show up in their lives. I’m thankful that I get to laugh with them and cry with them and share in both the joy and grief that sometimes accompanies life.

Letter to a Real Superhero

I recently shared these words with my friend, a new mom. And, I gave her a supermom “cape”

Dear Friend,

Words do not begin to express the joy I feel to know that you are becoming a mommy. I am so excited to be on this journey with you. There are some things that I think you should know—sort of an initiation into mommyhood.

In the next phase of life, it’s about to get REAL crazy, a good crazy, BUT crazy none-the-less. Your world, no matter how little or huge you feel like your world may be changing it’s about to be flipped upside down and inside out! It’s supposed to happen that way. There’s something uniquely mysterious and beautiful when a woman shares and pours her blood, sweat, tears and heart into a little baby. But, your life will never ever be the same as it was. REJOICE though: It will be better, but it will be harder.

Moms often get fearful to let others know that we’re struggling. There are moments when you too might feel lonely, and inadequate like you didn’t receive any training despite the hours of babysitting and classes you may have taken.

Look around at the moms around you, REALLY look for a minute AND know this: You are a blessed woman. I know that you know that, but I hope you really let it sink in today. These women around you are all women who deeply care for you, love you, and truly will jump in the trenches for you. Most of us have gone through this transition. We have all felt overwhelmed and underpaid. And we’ve all compared ourselves to another mom or woman who seemed to have it “all together”.

Know that we don’t have it all together. We have all been there crying out of pure exhaustion—wishing for more normalcy. But, know also the things you are facing are not yours they are ours– being alone only makes it worse—so reach out when those moments come. Let these women encourage and strengthen you. Let these women challenge you and most importantly let these women HELP you. If it feels like your day to day life would burden someone or is “your problem” and burdensome for others (which is normal) know that it’s not.

You have continuously served and been there for me, I am certain all of these women, and in this short phase we all get to be here for you. Let us BLESS you in that way! Don’t be afraid to ask! Ask for anything: Five minutes for a shower, 20 minutes for a nap, a trip to the grocery store. Don’t feel like you have to be a hostess or be worried about your home, you don’t need to. We all know and understand the challenges we face. So invite these women to face them with you.

Also, Know this: YOU are capable, able, and were made to be a superhero mom. You have prepared well for this! While at times, it may seem like you are failing, you aren’t. Your kids will not hate you and most likely they will not remember this time of transition, because they are resilient. Do the best that you can, and just keep going You’ll figure it out quickly! Tomorrow is a NEW day, so no matter how hard or how bad today felt, there’s a fresh start tomorrow!

Also, know this: keep your expectations of your spouse and of your house and of your life low during this time. The higher the expectations the less of a sense of accomplishment happens over achieving the little things (which all accumulate to become mastery of big things). Allow little victories to come daily and celebrate them!

Also, know this—this is ironic, since I am giving you a lot of advice, but this may just be the most important. Just go with your gut. There is a ton and a ton of differing advice columns, parenting methods, childrearing ways, but just do what you do best. Focus on what feels right for you and your spouse and for the little baby you have. The people who write those or who will give their unwanted advice aren’t you or him or have your kids. Listen, but feel free to use or not to use at YOUR own will!

Lastly, I’ll say this: Remember to keep God as a primary source of your strength. Not only will he give you supernatural abilities (especially when your sleep deprived), but He will be a source of joy and peace in the midst of your chaos. It’s about to get harder to find time to meet with Him, but in the craziness of your life find 5 min here or there. I’ve always been a big time Bible reader, and in my phase right now, I’m fairly limited in that portion of my faith walk, but I’ve gotten really good at praying. I pray while I do chores, and while I cook dinner. Different phases of life develop different faith practices–so don’t be discouraged.

On days when you feel up to your elbows in poop (literally you may feel this way) and babies are crying and you are so exhausted that you are sitting up drinking coffee and falling asleep know that you have a tool—feel free to use it often. You can make it a daily aspect of your wardrobe—you will deserve it within the first 24 hours.

Love ya, and I’m praying for you daily (minute by minute, hour by hour, because I know the crazy mom world), Ash

No Guts No Glory: guest blog

God sets the lonely in Families. Psalm 68:6

I have a heart for the lonely, and an even bigger heart for “family” or families. God has created a unique calling in my life to help families grow and be strengthened. But for right now, my biggest focus is to help my family be strengthened and grow and develop deeply into Christ’s love (and let’s be honest that’s a huge job with four kids under age four) and eventually to minister to others through my families strength and growth.

I love hearing how other people are ministering to families and doing the will of God by ministering to others through their family. I have a big heart for the family-less, and more specifically orphans, otherwise known today as foster kids. My youngest sister was adopted through foster care. My best friends are currently undergoing foster licensing to be able to foster some young kids in need of some love and hopefully to hopefully adopt.

My friend Courtnay, from college, and her husband  (and their two young kids) are on a mission to serve and help foster kids as well. I recently, heard their story through Courtnay’s blog and was moved by their obedience. So…I asked Courtnay if I could feature her on my blog as a guest blogger. 

Here is her story……..

No Guts No Glory by Courtnay Phillips

Courtnay, Tyler, Paislee, and Sutter As a young girl, I would often cry myself to sleep, out of fear that Christ would return before I was able to become a mother. Even as a 3 year old, I wanted to experience motherhood more then anything.  My mom would calm me by saying, “perhaps Jesus will allow you to be in charge of the Orphanage in Heaven when that day comes”.  Immediately my heart would settle, and that brought me much joy. This ‘orphanage’ conversation lodged deep in my heart, never to be forgotten.

At the age of 17, I set off to Panama, on a missions trip, instantly became broken by the needs of the children. How could you not be moved when standing in such poverty and yet captivated by the pure beauty in the faces of these little ones? It was there that I met my husband, Tyler. Our entire journey together began while being surrounded by babies and children who were in need of homes… Homes that would ultimately shine JESUS.

So here we are, almost exactly 10 years later, Ty and I have been happily married for nearly 5 of those and have two beautiful children of our own. Just as life started to get comfy, the Lord called us to change it entirely (and nothing short of dramatic, if I might add). We knew it was THAT time, time to adopt! Starting down the path to adoption was scary, with many unknowns and fears. Pregnancy I understood. Pregnancy I had been through. Pregnancy I had survived (though I still don’t know how). But adoption?  Ty and I both know that is not what we are called to in this season of life. The uneasy, messy, frightening,  and yet obedient season, that is the one we are following hard after!

Once we had fully accepted this calling, the 50+ page applications, interviews and hours & hours of training began rolling. However, little did we know, that the Lord would throw a huge wrench in the mix and completely redirect our hearts and our passion.

While sitting in one of the classes one day, it took everything within me to keep from weeping loudly. I knew my heart was changing, but was my husbands? What if my desires were being called one direction and yet my husbands be pulled another? But, we all know that we serve a God who is so much bigger than that. We broke for lunch and my husband and I drove in complete silence.

Finally, we sat at the table, and the first thing out of Ty’s mouth were the exact words I was hoping to hear, “Court, I want to be a foster parent more then anything”.

Foster parents? What? That is even more scary then the original idea of adoption. You hear horror stories of foster parenting… So why in the world would we want to take on that beast of a job?! A job with unending stress, frustrating court dates, irresponsible birth parents and zero reward? Why you ask??? TO SHINE JESUS.

Not only in the little lives of these terribly broken children, but also in all the case workers, parents and judges, all of whom we would see almost weekly. Not a day has passed since then, that I have not completely broke down in tears. In the car, my house, the grocery store, wherever… I begin to literally weep for these people and for the huge opportunity we will have to share of Christ and to be a light. This will have great challenges, more then I am probably even prepared for… but who says it doesn’t have reward?! Shining Jesus IS reward!

Preparing their Home for their New Family MembersSo once again, we are neck deep with paperwork. When we originally set out to adopt, we were thinking one child, which a slim chance of taking two.

However, we are officially OFF OUR ROCKERS and feel that our house is to be a home were siblings don’t have to be split. Meaning that we are prepping our house with FOUR new beds. Feel free to call us crazy! When Christ calls you to something you have two choices, you can run or you can accept the calling knowing that in HIM we find strength.

Ty and I are choosing to not end up like Jonah, and instead are facing this giant head on!

We have approximately two months to get physically and emotionally ready for this life changing experience.

Our prayer requests are broken into several things: One, that the Lord will prepare the four of us for the good and the bad of what is to come. Two, that the Lord will equip us with all the right tools to walk these very broken and confused kids through this hard road. Three, that we would have endless oppotunity to share Jesus. And four, for the Lords provision, that our finances would be overflowing in order to make our house a home for these children.

Entering into this world of fostering, is going to bring more challenges then we know what to do with. But we are believing, that since the Lord so clearly called us, that He will also give us the ability to walk forward everyday and that somehow, every morning that we wake up, will have MORE strength and MORE patience then we know what to do with.

The Phillips Family

At times, I look at what we are trying to accomplish and I feel that it is nearly impossible. However, we all know that when you are serving Jesus, impossible is not in the dictionary. The crazy thing is that we have nothing but complete peace.

So here we go, the very beginning of this crazy, life changing journey. Where will it lead? No idea. But so grateful that Christ does and that there is no reason to fear. In Him we find our strength.

-The Phillips Four-

Please continue to pray for this family as they move out into the unknown.

To read or follow more of their journey please visit her blog The Phillips Four and More

Welcome Home: this ain’t the luxury inn

Infrequently, I like to take a bubble bath. I say infrequently because I really only enjoy baths if it’s quiet, which rarely ever happens around here. But, tonight was a night I was laying in my mock claw foot bathtub, and as I frequently do, I let my mind wander. It wandered to a luxury resort on a white sandy beach deserted by everything, but me, a book, and a tropical drink of some sort. Then my mind wanderings eventually ventured into the dream house. You know the one where the master suite is a shabby chic vintage meets slightly modern so it barely escapes being called your grandma’s bedroom. The warm Italian meets European style kitchen that beckons for all cooking to behold some sort of culinary masterpiece. The whole things envelops your senses with the smell of…the smell of…oh my gosh what is the smell? And my daydreams have a rude awakening.

A few moments and a quick look in the bathroom, and I realize that my 4 year old burdened with his incredibly difficult chore of taking things to the garbage has brought a poopy diaper graciously in the bathroom garbage. Surely, thoughts of dream houses and luxury suites cannot compete with dirty diapers. Upon the exit, removal of the garbage, and re-entrance to the bathtub, a few babies (seems weird I can say that) begin to cry and it becomes painstakingly obvious that baths for moms are not happening.

I love that daydream, I really do. But, daydreams are for the dreaming, and they aren’t reality. My reality is that while I love my house, it’s hard occasionally to ignore the facts. Facts: there’s a stain on our stair-landing where the dirty dog slept for 2 years that refuses to come clean, my curtains in the dining room have a foot long shred going down (from the same dog that we no longer have jumping up to see who was in the driveway), there’s some plaster throughout the house that needs patching, the lawn needs mowing, the shed is falling down, the place where the carpet meets tile in the bathroom is shredding, and most days my bedroom seems to have a sign on it that reads, “if you don’t know where to put it, it goes here”

My house is far from a magazine and even further from a luxury suite on a sandy beach. My house is just a house filled with loveable, used and worn thrift store finds and a few craigslist pieces of furniture. But, it’s a different sort of house. Our house has a mission, it really does.

Jesus, after being dismissed in his home town, gave instructions to his disciples.

He said, “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different. (Mark 6:6-12a, The Message).

My husband, Cole and I decided two years ago when moving into our house, that it wouldn’t be a luxury inn, but would be home. It would be a modest place with loved-on objects, but more so that it would be a place where people feel welcomed. They would come into our front door and this would be a place where they felt they could kick up their feet and be themselves: messy, unkempt, not together, the person they are with those they feel most comfortable with. So that they may know that life can be different with Christ even while they aren’t perfect.

I won’t lie, it’s not always easy. It’s hard to allow people to see the reality of our home. It’s hard not to be prideful but to be transparent. It’s not normal, people think it’s weird. But then again normal isn’t fun. Normal doesn’t change me, normal doesn’t give people hope.

Stop by sometime, see if we’re on mission, hold us accountable, listen carefully to us answering the door. Hopefully we will say, “WELCOME HOME” and invite you in. Then please come in and please ignore the funny smells, the worn spots, the unmowed yards, and feel free to be you.

Response (these aren’t rhetorical, I really want to know):

What is your household mission? How does it play out in the reality of your life?